digging (into) vintage: Givenchy Insensé, 1993

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(image Rain Dove)

Perfumer Daniel Molière.

It’s a truism that a masculine floral is doomed to failure. Insensé was released as a men’s fragrances. Would it have been successful if it had been released as a feminine fragrance? In perfumery, the strategy of gender targeting is to aim for the wide height of the bell curve. The masculine/floral dictum suggests that perfume must be limited or reduced for masculine target marketing.

The layering in Insensé is spectacular. High to low: galbanum & aldehyde, lily of the valley and basil, amber and cedar. And of course, the real point: magnolia. The creamy magnolia makes Insensé a neo-tropical perfume. ‘Tropical’ in perfume has as much to do with specific notes (tiare, guava and the like) as a particular modulation of temperature and moisture. Insensé  may not have hibiscus and coconuts in it, but it is humid, juicy and luminously warm in the manner that suggests a tropical environment.

Maybe Insensé didn’t fail because it was a floral for men, but because it had the complexity and nuance of classical perfumery. It was launched into a market that was being groomed for mediocrity, at exactly the point where Cool gave way to Sport. It didn’t stand a chance.


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